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U.S. Authorities Suspect Dangerous Faults In Chinese Tires

Tires lack safety feature

U.S. authorities urged a recall of up to 450,000 Chinese-made tires that may contain safety defects, reports said June 26 -- the latest in a string of China-related consumer scares. Newspapers citing federal regulators and a U.S. distributor involved in designing the tires said an unknown number of them lacked a safety feature: a rubber layer known as a "gum strip," which is added to toughen them.

The New York Times cited federal officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as saying that they wanted Foreign Tire Sales Inc. to recall the suspect tires. The company first suspected problems in October 2005, it said, but only reported its concerns to the regulator this month.

The tires were imported from China's Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. since 2002 and distributed by Foreign Tire Sales Inc., based in the state of New Jersey, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The firm was sued after two people died in an accident allegedly caused by when a faulty tire split in Pennsylvania. It in turn has sued the Chinese company, which has denied any defects in the quality of its tires.

The tires were sold under the brand names Westlake, Telluride, Compass and YKS for use as spares on sport utility vehicles, vans and trucks, the newspaper said.

China, a traditional source of cheap goods, has caused alarm recently as a string of tainted and dangerous products have been discovered in the U.S., triggering concerns among consumers and regulators. Reports of tainted pet foods, dangerous toys, drugs, fish, cosmetics and other products have led to recalls and bans and potentially more stringent import and food safety laws.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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